Growing up can sometimes be, as Peter Pan best put it, “awfuller than all the awful things that ever were.” It means letting go of innocence, spoon-feeding (literally and figuratively) and regular playtime. It means taking on responsibility, managing a salary and experiencing the anxieties of adult life. But why should aging result in a loss of childhood fun?
Michelle Joni took a stance against this question and founded Preschool Mastermind, a Brooklyn, New York preschool for adults. With an enrollment cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, adults can take a break from their grown-up lives and go back to preschool to fingerpaint, play games, have naptime and play dress up in adult-sized costumes.
Although the price is quite high, I see Preschool Mastermind as a valuable therapy for adults. In today’s world, people sit at their desks for hours on end, hunched over their computers and stressed about their jobs. And just when work is finally done, they have errands to run, meals to cook, phone calls to make … the “To-Do” list goes on and on. With today’s technology, it seems like the most popular ways to relax and “escape” from work are by watching TV, playing games on one’s iPhone or mindlessly scrolling through social media. There is, however, something a bit unnatural about escaping through technology. By staring at screens, adults are still focused on the media and tuned into the interconnected world. Electronics, in short, transport people into a pre-made world that lacks individual imagination.
Child-like activities, on the other hand, encourage people to rely on their own creativity for entertainment and relaxation. Although I use the word “child-like,” the importance of preschool activities in adulthood is highly overlooked. Society sets up an inaccurate stigma that preschool activities are solely for children and that the adult world does not have room for such things. Why, however, should this kind of healthy mental and physical stimulation be demolished and ignored after a certain age? Fingerpainting, for example, helps grown-ups be acceptably messy, giving them freedom from the orderly working world. “Show-and-Tell” allows an adult to advertise their own personality, rather than that of the company for which they work. Allowing preschool activities in adulthood can help teach grown-ups that their childhood ways are still important in finding senses of relief and calmness from the hustling and bustling adult world.
Making a macaroni art masterpiece, shaking rattles in music class and singing “Ring Around the Rosie” are not coincidental activities in preschool. Rather, they teach the values of self-expression, innovation and individualism. They support and appraise the human need to smile and have fun. These qualities are often too easily lost with age, but individuality and happiness are still components of today’s adult world. Workers must be creative to demonstrate their skills and abilities, and people are generally more successful in their jobs when they can be happy with their work. Preschool Mastermind is important because it reminds humanity that the innocence and simplicity of childhood are timelessly therapeutic and promote skills and feelings that should never diminish, no matter how grown-up a person may be.